Power Makes Us Sick

Power Makes us Sick (PMS) is a creative research project focusing on autonomous health care practices and networks from a feminist perspective. PMS seeks to understand the ways that our mental, physical, and social health is impacted by imbalances in and abuses of power. We can see that mobility, forced or otherwise, is an increasingly common aspect of life in the anthropocene. PMS is motivated to develop free tools of solidarity, resistance, and sabotage that respond to these conditions and are informed by a deep concern for planetary well-being.  PMS is working together to forge an accountability model of health that can function multilocally and without requiring place-based fixity or institutional support.

This accountability model for health - mental, physical, and social - will operate irrespective of place, and for all bodies seeking health care in assistance with all ailments and disempowerments. This tool would be informed by the integrated model of health implemented by the clinic at Bio.me in Thessaloniki and the mental health questionnaire developed by the Icarus Project in NYC, and other relevant tools we continue to encounter along the way. Inspired by the Bio.me system, our model functions as a triage system that helps participants understand the complete picture of a person’s health first through a longform interview, followed by periodic ‘check-ins’ or urgent calls with the committed group.  case ‘health practitioners’ are understood as those who share the responsibility of one another’s health. This means that accountability works in all directions and that if we uphold certain procedures, everyone is capable of providing care. Following the initial long interview, a ‘health card’ is generated and shared among the team, which includes the care seeker. This serves as a health record that can be added to over time and that the care seeker can use in emergencies. Through long term support and awareness of individual and social patterns, the health care practitioners can connect health care seekers with local resources, provide consultation, and solidarity.


Can I ask the logic behind the name? Super interested, any thoughts appreciated.

I’m reminded of some of the neurological research around the effects of occupying a position of relative power in a system, think was done with police officers, citation needed.

I know neuro/bio research shouldn’t be necessary to tell us power (whether for victims or perpetratorr) screws people up, but…yeah.

Your model sounds inspirational, hope to follow up.

Hello Thom,

Thanks for your reply. I’m pretty sure the logic of the name of our collective is meant to be self-explanatory, if not also agitating in nature.

Yeah, you’re right, we don’t really need science to tell us that power makes us ill. Most of us are painfully aware of this.

We’re excited to hear more of what you’re working on and share stuff too.

@powermakesussick this is just wonderful! Thank you for sharing, thank you for doing.

So I’m coming from an aligned perspective when it comes to care, in that I think that toxic power dynamics are central to the brokenness of intimate and systemic relationships of care. Some of the ways in which I’ve been thinking through and practicing this refer to certain post-feminist, queer and decolonial approaches. I’ve been thinking that if we can start with shifting our very psychoanalytic experience of the Self and Other, that if we begin relating through what I call an “expanded self” or what Bracha Ettinger calls the “matrixial borderspace,” then we might be able to address the root of these issues. I have much more to say on this… will you be at the OpenVillage festival? Perhaps we can share more in person. In any case, you may like to look at the work of Bracha if you’re not yet familiar with it - very high theory but beautiful in the ways it pushes beyond the patriarchal model of psychoanlaysis.

What I’ve come to realise however is that my philosophical and practice-based explorations are limited in how they can address wider immediate care needs and will take a long time to unfold. This is what I appreciate about what you’re doing! Is that you’re translating these ideas into a tangible accountability model for health. I’m not sure I understand it in its entirety, and yet another reason I hope we can talk more!

Really inspiring work